Are commercial trucks safe? The answer depends on the driver and the road conditions. Although accidents happen, large truck accidents can result in more serious consequences compared to passenger vehicle crashes. For instance, accidents involving large commercial trucks frequently result in severe injuries and fatalities.
According to statistics, semi-truck accidents cause around 5,000 passenger vehicle fatalities each year. Tractor-trailers and semi-trucks are more dangerous on the road because they are significantly larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. This means truck drivers have an enormous responsibility to drive safely.
Although truck drivers can’t control everything, the following technologies are making commercial trucks safer.
Heavy duty quick connect couplers
On a commercial truck, every component matters and needs to be fully functional. If any part malfunctions, it can put the truck and the driver at risk.
This, in turn, puts other motorists at risk on the road. For instance, when semi-trucks have poor hydraulic fittings, the stress from the shock and vibration can cause them to fail and leak fluid.
If a hydraulic coupler malfunctions while a truck is transporting a load, it can cause the driver to lose control of their truck and cause a serious accident. The solution is to use high-quality quick connect couplers specifically designed to withstand the repetitive shock and vibrations of commercial trucks.
Using high-quality couplers also prevents workers from being exposed to the toxicity of the fluid during cleanup. In this manner, this technology helps keep the planet clean and makes the roads safer at the same time.
Active driver assist
You’re probably familiar with driver assist technology and may even have it installed in your personal vehicle. This technology uses sensors and software to detect potential obstacles and alert the driver.
Driver assist technology started simple and has evolved into something a bit more complex. Today’s technology is not just powered by software; it’s powered by software that uses machine learning to adjust its algorithms to continually improve safety.
Now, this tech is being installed in commercial trucks. For example, Volvo has a line of semi-trucks with several powerful driver-assist features.
Volvo uses cameras and radar to detect objects in the middle of the road far enough in advance to give truck drivers time to apply the brakes. The sensor mounted to the front bumper can detect metallic objects as far forward as 500 feet.
The warning signal for potential crash is impressive – in addition to a sound, a red line is displayed on the front windshield in front of the driver. Of course, these trucks also come equipped with lane departure warning and blind spot detection.
At first glance, autonomous semi-trucks don’t sound that safe. Can trucks really drive themselves safely on the highway?
We’ve already seen a handful of autonomous passenger vehicle crashes, injuries, and fatalities, so you may be wondering if autonomous commercial trucks can really be safe. The answer is yes, and they get safer every day.
Autonomous semi-trucks aren’t mainstream yet, but there are several companies testing them with and without safety drivers. You can watch one of these trucks seamlessly make an 80-mile journey without a safety driver in the cab.
Part of the reason driverless semi-trucks are safe is because software can accomplish tasks that humans can’t without making errors.
For instance, autonomous trucks aren’t being operated by drivers who get distracted by eating, taking phone calls, passengers, scenery, their own thoughts, or music. Distracted driving is a major cause of truck accidents.
Autonomous commercial trucks are equipped with high-tech sensors and are programmed to instantly calculate the distance and speed of other vehicles and adjust their speed accordingly.
As long as the software is functioning, the truck shouldn’t have any problems navigating the roads, including obeying all traffic laws and avoiding unexpected pedestrians.
Will commercial trucks ever be completely safe?
Most large truck accidents are caused by truck drivers. However, sometimes passenger vehicle drivers are to blame, especially when they hang out in a truck’s blind spot or become too eager to pass a truck at the wrong time.
With that said, technology can’t magically prevent all accidents. However, technology is helping to make trucks safer, whether there’s a driver in the cab or it’s an autonomous vehicle.
Perhaps in the future, having more autonomous passenger vehicles on the road will also help improve truck safety by eliminating the human error that causes truck crashes from both sides. Only time will tell.